tv Charlie Rose PBS May 6, 2011 12:00pm-1:00pm EDT
>> rose: welcome to our program. i'm brian williams, "nbc nightly news", filling in for charlie rose. we look this evening at the dramatic week that marks the end of a decade-long man hunt with the killing of osama bin laden and a time for our country to move forward, perhaps, as president obama pays tribute to the lives lost on 9/11. richard engel, our nbc news chief foreign correspondent with us from benghazi, libya. >> the united states has spent over a trillion dollars fighting terrorism and, of course, terrorism will continue but it does feel that the event that started this off, this entire march into the middle east which was, of course, the attacks of 9/11, are now coming to a close with the death of osama bin laden. so it feels like a real possible turning point and i think in
this part of the world it will certainly be welcome. >> williams: for perspective and reflection we talk with presidential historian and author dorr rinse kearns goodwin adam gopnik, essayist for the "new yorker" magazine. >> osama's left in our minds a certain uncertainty. what do we know about what he's doing in only a year ago you had folks in washington saying we haven't had any intelligence about him for years. so that uncertainty is now gone. we now can say for ourselves that people like him can be got no matter how safe and we are transfering that uncertainty to ayman al-zawahiri and everybody around him. we're now looking out of their windows wherever they are. they're not in caves. they're looking out of their windows and wondering when does that helicopter come with me? >> williams: we conclude with an interview charlie taped with steve levy of "wired" magazine whose new book is called "in the
plex: how google works, shapes, and changes our lives." the biggest challenge is thinking like a small company when it's so big. this has bedeviled the founders since the company started growing at a rapid rate in the early 2000s. >> rose: have to maintain the culture they started with. >> and the nimbleness. the internet is all about getting products out in a big hurry even if they have to be in beta for years. they want their people to feel creative and nonconstrained and not have to answer to middle management. >> presidential leadership, the world today ten years after september 11 and the killing of osama bin laden. and charlie's interview with stef levy all coming up. we can all root for. story no who bes the odds and comes out top. but this isn't just a hollywood storyline. it's happening every day, all across america.
every time a storefront opens. or the midnight oil is burned. or when someone chases a dream, not just a dollar. they are small business owners. so if you wanna root for a real hero, support small business. shop small. captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> williams: has landed in turkey on assignment and, of course, our topic, our subject
tonight, the events of the past several days starting with news late sunday night of the death of osama bin laden. wer joined first off here tonight by a colleague of mine and a frequent guest on this broadcast, from benghazi, libya, richard engel, our chief foreign correspondent. richard, you and i have spoken many times, including sunday night as it was braking but since the news has breken. one very big question, what has changed in the world that you cover and what has been your home-- the middle east, north afternoon a-- for the better part of the last decade. >> well, it feels like this period of history has a bookend now placed on it. for so many journalists, for so many diplomats, certainly for hundreds of thousands of soldiers this last decade, the war on terrorism, the global war on terrorism, has defined their lives.
it has defined american culture. it has defined the american projection of power. it has created an entire core of mercenaries and contractors, if united states has spent over a trillion dollars fighting terrorism-- and, of course, terrorism will continue-- but it does feel that the event that started this off, this entire march into the middle east which was, of course, the attacks of 9/11, are now coming to a close with the death of osama bin laden. so it feels like a real football turning point and i think this part of the world it will certainly be welcome. you know the tensions that have existed, real palpable tension between americans, between the muslim world antagonism, this feeling of us and then. there is a possibility now that the u.s. and this part of the world can move on. >> williams: hearing you say that makes me want to ask how influential was he at the end?
tom friedman of the "new york times" talks about the difference between bin laden and bin ladenism. >> he wasn't so influential but the american reaction to him was incredibly influential. the war in afghanistan, the war in iraq, guantanamo, the entire perception of muslims the way they felt that this was the war on terrorism was a war on islam, that if you were from this part of the world and you went to an airport in europe or the united states or applied for a student visa you were looked upon with suspicion and that air of suspicion stemmed from bin laden. stemmed from al qaeda. it wasn't anything he did directly but it was the way the world looked at itself and looked at the islamic world. pastors in the united states who are burning korans. the entire controversy around
the mosque in downtown new york city. all of these issues were extensively covered in this part of the world. but what was interesting is over the last few days the focus hasn't been so much on bin laden it's been on all of the revolutions that have been going on from tunisia to here in libya and there is a feeling that this part of the world wants to move on, wants to put this period-- the global war on terrorism, the period of profiling, of an the eggisim in-- behind it. >> williams: richard, then we're left with-- to use two terms of art from the u.s. business community-- the affiliates and the franchises. so long after the death of osama bin laden the al qaeda ethos, the notion and hatreds that have been around forever and still will go on and this al qaeda takes on various new forms. >> yes. the ideology does survive.
and i like to think of osama bin laden as basically an evil historian. he is fighting against the united states, not just because the united states has its misguided poll sneeze his opinion toward israel but because the muslim world in... according to bin ladenism has been oppressed by europe, by the united states, really since world war i. and the entire creation of the modern middle east has been to the disadvantage of muslims and to the disadvantage of people who live in the region. and that anger and angst does still exist in the region. bin laden was able to tap into that and specifically turn it towards united states. there are franchises, no doubt. and there's a very active franchise in yemen, there's a very active franchise here in north africa and there are plenty of people who want to rise up within the ranks and to take that leadership role. but osama bin laden was always the center of it all.
he was the one who was able to stay alive after all these years organize and certainly inspire this great attack, the attack of 9/11 which was... is still being prized in al qaeda circles and with him going, the prestige of al qaeda takes a tremendous blow. and it also sends a message that the united states doesn't cut and run. that and that's what we heard so many times from bin laden, from other al qaeda leaders that when the u.s. was attacked in lebanon u.s. troops left. when the united states forces of black hawk down were attacked in somalia the u.s. left. and the u.s. didn't give up on its hunt for bin laden and eventually found him in this house and killed him. >> williams: and because you're in benghazi, it probably wouldn't hurt to spend a few minutes and ask you about the current situation there. after all, the news this past weekend when we were at that aforementioned correspondent's
diner that there's been so much talk about was that there had been a nato air strike on one of qaddafi's homes. his son saif was killed. moammar qaddafi was apparently home but uninjured. then we didn't hear from him for a couple days. leon panetta confirms he is alive and well. and the other front is that the arming of the rebels, the organizing of the rebels, you're in their headquarter city. so what's the status of things? >> >> the status is... well, as you reported, moammar qaddafi is apparently still alive. he's gone underground, you don't see him anymore and he's feeling increasingly isolate. most of his attacks are focused on the city of misurata which is a horrible scene where the people are clustered in a small enclave in the center of the city. most of misurata will probably
have to be completely destroyed and rebuilt and the rebels are trying to organize. there are some advisors on the ground now that are giving them tactical advice. but going back to the global war on terrorism and what this all means, even the mission here in libya has been impacteded i think directly by the events of the last ten years. the united states and nato-- but particularly president obama-- didn't want to go in big into libya partly because it had gotten burned in iraq. the idea was if you go in and you take charge in the occupation and take charge in the topple of a regime then you're stuck with rebuilding it. and that's cost a tremendous amount of money and peres teng. we're still dealing with it in iraq and afghanistan and it was because of that feeling of being gun-shy that the united states opted for a much more conciliatory approach with its nato resolution here where we'll
give the rebels some air support some political cover, but they're going to have to do it themselves. so this is a new model for war. iraq was all in and to try and manage the system, afghanistan was all in neither of them went particularly well. this is a "we'll give the rebels an umbrella and see if they can do it themselves." this this succeeds we could be seeing the model for warfare in the post-global war on terrorism era. >> williams: richard, we'll see you on "nbc nightly news". thank you for joining us. >> williams: we continue with our discussion of what's been an eventful week. this afternoon, president obama made his first visit to ground zero since taking office, laying a wreath to honor the victims of 9/11 and meeting privately with the families of those who were killed.
vice president biden participated in a ceremony at the pentagon. this, of course, marks the ten-year end of the man hunt for osama bin laden. mastermind behind september 11 and the founder of al qaeda. and with us here around the table to look at all that has happened, presidential misstoreian doris kearns goodwin bobby gauche of "time" magazine. and you're the biggest picture of all three... >> because i studied dead presidents will women i've been thinking of you because you're so good at placing events on the grid of history, how big is the news we received late sunday night? >> i think it will be even bigger in the future than it feels to us right now and it feels pretty big right now. i think there's a lot of reasons for that. number one, america's prestige in the world has been helped by this. the fact that we can do
something that we said we were going to do which we've begun to doubt about ourselves proved true and perhaps the biggest thing might be what happens to the president's internal self. when you go through something like there this where you took an enormous risk and the anxiety and tension and w sthood adversity, it's going to make you stronger. he's had the loss of the midterm elections and the success of this. it will deepen him and make him wiser. j.f.k. made the great american university speech after the cuban missile crisis. he said "we have to change our feelings about the cold war." it made him different and it made lincoln different when he sat in the telegraph office with his war secretary that told him that thousands has been killed that day. we may not see it right away but we will see it
>> williams: adam, what changed sunday night? >> i'd like to think it's the specter of fear that evaporate add little bit. fear is the terrorist's best weapon. it's not just the damage that you do-- or will risk though that damage happened to be in this city-- but the image of fear that you create because it so out of proportion very often to the real threat that the terrorists can make. and so to suddenly have this face which was kind of uniquely geared to be a kind of charismatic fanatic religious enemy, to have it vanish from the kind of... the pantheon of scary people, i think was terrific. not because threats do not remain. not because we couldn't have another attack tomorrow, all of those things are real but because it removes the threat of
frichl this nameless unspeakable dread to the array of real threats we face everyday in the course of ordinary living and that we have to put in the right context. i happen to be... i'm a very unlucky guy. i walk around with a black cloud over my head and i happened to be in london on 7/7 when they had the big terrorist attack and it was very striking at the time that though it was terrifying, people were filled with grief and fear, they weren't paralyzed by those feelings of fear. they were able to understand, articulate, organize in terms of predictable history. >> do you think because they'd been through world war ii and the bombing? >> and the i.r.a. and many other things. >> williams: part of their d.n.a.. >> exactly and they were able to say this is horrible but not unprecedented and it won't paralyze us going on into the future. if it has one affect, that would be a terrific one. that is the death. >> williams: are we still going to be taking shoes off? emptying and drinking our water bottles... >> apparently we're addicted to the meaningless theater of airport security and other kinds
of security and clearly that's not something that we'll easily alleviate, but i think that the inner sense... it's very difficult for people, especially for people who didn't live in new york through those years to understand. and by "those years" i mean particularly between about 2001 and 2005 that to understand the kind of should we stay here at all? are we safe? are our kids safe? that kind of fear. it was disproportionate to the real threat as we know now but nonetheless it was there and fear does terrible things to people. it makes people react in terrible and self-destructive ways. terrorism is a kind of autoimmune disease. it gets you your own anti-bodies that attack your public health. attack you from the inside. i hope that that period, at least is over now. >> li >>illiams:ambobby beforee know about the news you wrote this cover story "is america islamophobic." "time" was in the news this week when this cover came out. the magazine pointed out fourth time in history this has
happened. what were the others? hitler, saddam... >> abu musab al-zarqawi in iraq and now this. and i was in iraq when we did saddam and also when we did zarqawi. >> williams: so how does this news go back to affect this potential thesis? >> well, i'm a little cautious about that but a great deal will depend now on how the president communicates to americans. i think fact that as adam said that people feel less frightened helps the sort of discussion about muslims and islam in this country but a great deal now depends on what actions follow this step. i think there is something to be taken from the fact-- and the white house has been very particularly about stating this-- that even osama bin laden's got a proper muslim burial. we're not going to see that, but the fact that america took pains to give this man the decent
burial after his death, the kind of that effort he never made for his victims is important and i think muslims in this country and around the world will take something from that. but i think just as president bush came out immediately after 9/11 and made it clear to islam was not the enemy, i think that needs to be reinforced by this president, by others in the administration. >> williams: do you agree with what we now know was the president's call not to release the photos? and i have to point out that maybe two hours after that news on the reuters sight up went eight more photos showing three dead victims in pooh pools of blood. more of the interior of the structure and, oh, by the way, the military hardware lead story from the event and that is that it turns out that there was a reto forsecret stealth black hawkhat was disabled.
they attempted to blow it up on their way t. they missed the tail section and a lot the kind of fabric skin and there are worries china in its race to make a similar product is just about to receive a big hand. so back to the photos. do you concur with the white house decision? >> i don't. i don't. i was in iraq when the bodies of uday and qusay, the sons of saddam hussein, when the pictures of their dead bodies... they were cleaned up but they were shown. i was also in iraq when saddam hussein was hung and that video leaked out from spot where he was being hung and there was a lot of alarm expressed that this would send the wrong signal and people would be infuriated and it would lead to attacks. none of those things happened. and i think that the white house is being a little too cautious. that part of the argument that this might incite more violence i don't fully buy. >> i thoroughly disagree in this sense. that the prudential argument might be empty, it's going to cause more violence. i think the moral argument is
very strong and i think that it was one of the most distinguished things obama's ever done. because we try to distinguish ourselves. we have to use violence, even liberal states and societies, lincoln was the great exponent of this notion. we have to use violence at times because we live in a violent world. but we use violence as a last resort in necessary of self-defense, not as a first option in national self-assertion. and so restoring that kind of atavistic urge, we got the bad guy and we're going to march around with his head on the a pole, to do all those things, those are the kinds of things the romans did, really does draw a line. and it's so hard to draw a line. we're... we violently just assassinated somebody. it does draw a line between the kind of violence of nationalism and the necessary violence of liberalism. i thought it was an admirable thing to do and a profoundly moral thing to do. >> williams: the president put in the much more basic terms. he said "we're not going to
spike the ball in the end zone." >> slightly unfortunate in some ways. >> and i think he also didn't want it to be a trophy where other people would be carrying it around and using it to say "ha ha, this is what we did." it's so amazing to realize how far we've come in expecting this kind of picture. in world war ii it wasn't until the middle of the war that they even allowed a picture in live magazine to show a dead soldier. now we're so accustomed to that kind of violence. i think you're right, not doing in the this time when we're so used to gory pick schurs a good thing. it brings us back to something we have lost. the fact that they thought out those details ahead of time suggests a part of obama's mind-set that's a very comfortable thing to think about. especially way they buried him at sea and knowing that was the proper thing to do. thinking that through even beforehand thigh figured that out. i still can't imagine the anxiety he must have gone through as they were... that picture is so dramatic of them waiting. i mean, i keep thinking and i know i think we've talked about this when f.d.r. was waiting to
hear whether the invasion in north africa had worked or not and he's sitting there constantly looking at the phone all day long. finally they say "the phone is ringing for you, it test war secretary" he can hardly hold the phone his hand is so shaky, did i do the right thing by sending it against the generals' advise? the idea he was willing to take this risk, the riskiest of all, they said it was between moderate and excessive risk that it would come out right compared to a drone or just doing more intelligence was a extraordinary thing and must have weighed enormously. those deaths would have been directly on him. it's one thing to send guys off to battle but another to know if our soldiers died he sent them into a mission that failed. it's extraordinary to me. that's when you know presidents are different people from us. >> i for the first time in my life went to the white house correspondent's dinner. everybody saw that he was extremely funny, obama. relaxed and funny, he did his thing. what you probably couldn't see-- and i could only see across two football fields of tables-- was that he was completely relaxed and seemed to be taking great
delight in getting zinced by seth meyers. he wasn't just performed when he had to repeat the line about michelle snatching the candy from the poor children. i thought it was impressive at the time. he'd already given the order. he knew his entire presidency was on the line and could blow up in his face tomorrow. say what you like about what he does, if this man doesn't have the right temperament far job, i don't know who does. >> williams: yet why didn't george w. bush get credit for remaining in that classroom? going ahead with the lesson plan? reading to those children and not running out of the room? >> that's a fair question. >> of all the indictments you might make of george w. bush, that t fact that he tried to keep his head and continued to do what he was doing while he was figuring out what to do next, that's always seemed to me to be... there's a long rap sheet, that shouldn't be one of the items on it. >> williams: what did change sunday night and maybe the best precursor to the question is how would you have described him saturday? the c.e.o. emeritus? the founder emeritus?
certainly not the titular head, the spir dhul head of a movement that has now scattered in a million different directions including aspirational would be amateur terrorists like a guy who park askar in times square. >> well, to the extent that you can call bin ladenism a philosophy, he was a philosopher king. didn't really is much actual control over his empire and i suspect didn't know how far it extended. but a lot of people look to him, looked at his example and took comfort from that. a lot of bad people around the world. but the best thing about one of the many really good things about osama not being around anymore is that the time of of his death was exquisite. we killed's sam ma just as arab it is-- young arabs-- were killing bin ladenism. it's... getting rid of in the their own homes.
that was crucial. this happened five years ago, seven years ago when the arab world-- particularly young arabs-- were still sullen and resentful about the way they were being governed with american complicity. i think the response would have been quite different. now young arabs have another example to follow. they know that they don't need terror. they don't need to kill themselves until other people can get rid of their dictators and to change their futures. one of the things that i've... was in my mind is that we know there was cable t.v. in that compound. (laughter) and i'm sort of wondering how osama bin laden was consuming the news out of tahrir square a couple months ago where you were what it must have felt for him. on the one hand these were the regimes he wanted himself to topple. on the other hand, the people in the square were not carrying his picture. and were not chanting his slogans. so i would have... many other places and "new york times" the
world where i'd love to be a fly on the wall, that would have been one. i would have wanted to know how osama bin laden saw this picture and what affected the. >> williams: doris, this is personal for you in an important way. what happened in your house on 9/12. >> i have a son, as you know, joey, my youngest child, who graduated from harvard college in june right before 9/11. and on 9/12 he decided to volunteer for the army. he had not gone to anything that had to do with the army. there wasn't even r.o.t.c. at harvard. he just felt this desire to somehow do something for the country. so the last almost ten years of his life were changed fundamentally. he went to basic training, officer candidate school, he was a platoon leader in baghdad for two tours of duty, came back and was out of it and then got called back involuntarily to afghanistan. i must say i don't think he'd change it for a minute. i think it's changed him thoroughly. the kids in his platoon got out safely, he will say it's the best thing he could have done in
his life. he got a bronze star for courage and he came back a leader in a way that he wouldn't have but it was hard during those times when he was in iraq and we couldn't flare him. the early days of the war there was no e-mail and every now and then you'd hear some kid from massachusetts was killed. it still leaves me with the sadness when i think about the fact when i... i always look, two soldiers killed, three soldiers and i feel a sense of connection to those families and i still think we haven't done you have no make sure that we understand the sacrifices they've made. i remember when the "new york times" put these great little biographies, living biographies of everybody who died in 9/11 and i wish they'd done that for every soldier so we knew them as living figures, not just dead figures. and now maybe that's something that can be done and maybe the end result, the best result of this will be if our soldiers finally come home. then it will finally be over. >> and young people. this is the first time we've paid attention to the generation that grew up in the shadow of 9/11. and so much of the coverage in
the last few days has been directed at them and their response to osama being killed. we went back to that classroom adam was referring to. we went back to the classroom, we found some of the kids who were hearing the president tell them about "my pet goat" and now ten years later they've grown up in the shad dpo of 9/11 and their perception of the world, their perception of this event is very, very different. they feel it in a very visceral way >> absolutely. >> they don't really remember what life was like before. and that sort of... that beginning of an exploration about what 9/11 has done to this society. >> williams: i would never call it pack journalism, just an example of how great minds think alike. earlier tonight on "nbc nightly news" we did the same segment on the children in the classroom, one of whom is now... one of whom is now at a military
academy, all of whom say that their life was marked by that moment. adam, here are the u.s. navy seals and lost in all this perhaps is the fact they were willing to die for this mission. they probably, a lot of them, mentally at some level had accepted the fact that there could be casualties. they were fired upon on their final flair during landing before even setting down. what do you think is the takeaway value of the kind of masters degree in commando military tactics and personnel that american media consumers are getting this week? >> i think for the people of... for the kids, you know, heroes are heroes. that was heroic thing to do. i happened to be up in boston the night on sunday night and i got a call at 11:30 from from my 16-year-old saying "turn on the television." he's not a particularly military-minded kid, he's a new york city kid.
but i think our hearts rightly resonate when we know courage is being employed. courage has been activated. these guys were brave. on a larger... in a larger perspective, it does steam suggest that you don't need to have these guys in afghanistan watching every bad guy at every moment in order to do this kind of action. and i would hope at least that it would clear the way to tend war to bring those other kids home because it's not apparent... 9/11 wasn't... was plotted in germany. 9/11 was plotted in hotel rooms in germany. osama bin laden was killed by a special forces team that could have come out of the night from anywhere. i think we're living in a different kind of battle where big armies occupying big ground is no longer as applicable. >> and if it's true that it was a great intelligence success then hopefully it will make more people want to go into intelligence. we need the best people there.
if that's going to be our future much more than these big land battles. the very fact that this whole thing grew out of the failure of carter's hostage mission. intelligence companies weren't talking to one another, they weren't sharing information, they didn't have the right equipment. and they learned from that mistake. and hopefully they'll learn from the success and they can multiply it in more places. >> williams: i have to go back to your last point. so that was it? everything joey goodwin fought for and friends of mine, friends of all of ours came back with deep brain injuries-- if they came back-- no legs, no arms. that was it, end game, come home leave afghanistan wherever it sits snowed >> well, i think you can honor their sacrifice and courage, which is undeniable, and still say that this is this isn't the best use of their courage and of their willingness to sacrifice. i think you have to ask yourself after ten years whether it continues to make sense for us to be there. it's not something i claim any
expertise on but i do think that as i said before terrorism is an autoimmune disease. it gets inside us and gets all of our seldefense mechanisms working. and sometimes they work too hard. it forced us into iraq which i don't think very many people left would say was a good idea or worked out well. so i think exactly by eradicating the specter of fear we've been talking about we can make rational benefit and loss calculations about these things rather than making them deeply rooted emotional responses. how can we walk away? because it's not a question of we can walk away, it's how we can fight intelligence. >> williams: bobby, now that we know-- i'll give it a nickname-- that there was a golden bullet in the weapon of one of those incoming seals and now that we know we can do this what if we had done this in the case of
saddam hussein? >> well, it's a good question and i'm... i was wondering when doris was talking earlier about how much advanced planning had gone into this operation not just in the execution of the operation but the aftermath, what to do about the body. i was wondering how much of that was informed by what happened with saddam hussein. when we... when he was found in that little spied di hole. he had a weapon. and if this logic had been applied or this... or these sort of... the team that found him had the same instructions as maybe the navy seals they would have shot him in the ground but they didn't, they brought him to trial, there was a lot of concern at the time i remember of people saying "why didn't we just shoot him? why are we giving him an opportunity for grandstanding to sort of rally his people?" none of those things happen. yes, the trials began with a lot of attention but over a period of time he became a laughing for
iraqis and there's something to be said for that. by the time saddam had died, dadism-- like bin ladenism-- had also died. he has been reduced to a figure of fun. i'm sure there was a small core of people who sort of looked at those images on t.v. and felt bad or incensed but the vast majority of efshgkys saw that unfold and realized that the boogie man in their head was just a man and a raving slightly insane man but still very much a man. will twill tradition of fast-- in the case of both men, saddam and bin laden-- they had become cartoonish, foppish people which present day usually means "saturday night live" and not just occasionally but often. >> not hitler or stallen. that's true.
those people were evil incarnate in a way that these people are too but we weren't treating them that way anymore. >> i think there's a significant difference between those too cases because saddam was a gangster thug of a sort of who litters history in every kind. you can find a hundred like them and once they're robbed of their... like any gangster, once they're robbed of their power they look absurd or just stupid. but's sam ma, i think, as you were saying, represented something deeper in lots of ways more frightening. it was evil adulterated with idealism. evil where there was some sense in which it was in touch with a perversion of religious values but then thels with religious values. it's the same kind of hold hitler had in that way because people understand that he had the ability to mobilize people there self-sacrificing ways, in pursuit of his own thing. so in that sense i think osama was a much more frightening figure historically and had a much... played a much deeper role, if you like, in the
american psyche. >> to iraqis and people in that region saddam stood for more than just your garden variety thug. there was an ideology, as empty as it may be clear now, there was an ideology. it was the ba'ath ideology of sort of... which is closest to national socialism. one part nazi, one part stalin and those were his heroes. >> williams: not to be forgotten in the case of bin laden a perversely inexpensive attack using largely our own systems against us. that took down more lives and materiel than pearl harbor. >> and maybe that's part of the reason why it felt so vulnerable to us. for that generation, especial they young generation, who had grown up in part under the cold war ending in that period where vietnam was over and no other war came it was much more of a shock than it would be if this had happened right after world war ii or in the middle of
vietnam where we were too accustomed to... and the middle of the cold war. but that vulnerability, i agree with you. i think somehow that vulnerability may be reduced right now and if we can reduce it in ourselves and increase hit in the people still out there wanting to do the bad things against us, because they'll be tracked down and even though those cells are out there, maybe they'll be more fearful if that shift were in good faith. >> and not just fear, the other specter is uncertainty. >> right. >> osama left a certain uncertainty. he's still throughout? what are we doing? what do we know about what he's doing? only a year ago you had folks in washington saying we haven't had any intelligence about him for years. so that uncertainty is now gone. we can say for ourselves that people like him can be got. and we are transferring that uncertainty to ayman al-zawahiri and whoever are now looking out of their windows wherever they are. they're not in caves, we know. they're looking out of their windows and wondering "when does
that helicopter come from me?" >> williams: with that, the last word, bobby ghosh, adam gopnik and the proud mother of a veteran of the u.s. armed forces doris kearns goodwin, thank you all for being with us. >> williams: steven levy is here a senior writer for "wired" magazine. he's written "how google thinks, works and shapesous lives." it tells the story of google's successes and challenges since it was founded. i'm pleadsed to have him back on this program. welcome. >> thank you. >> rose: here's what's interesting to me most of all, the guiding forces who shape a company like this. i think it was marisa meyer who said there's something to be said about the fact that both sergei and larry were montessori kids. >> right. >> what does that mean? >> well, i'm reading a book by maria montessori, the great master of that free-style education to understand that better and it does fit larry and sergei who both indeed had
montessori training. it's something that has you question authority and you pursue what you're passionate about. the idea of montessori is you'll learn better if you're learning what you're excited about. and that's the way they operate that. if you look at google's history after search the projects they've gone to are things they've gravitated to and been passionate about and even now that it's a bigger company, maybe that will change that larry's c.e.o. but larry and sergei have allowed themselves the freedom to go wherever they want and it's impressing on their employees, too. you'll do better by doing what you're passionate about and that's why they have that 20% idea that an employee can spend one day a week doing what he or she wants to do without having approval. >> rose: in some cases it's led to the start of things that have benefited the employee and google. >> things like google news and gmail came out of the 20% program. >> rose: you mentioned larry becoming the c.e.o. why did that happen and what does it mean for google? >> it happened literally at the
last moment i could include in the book but then i realized that it was in there all along. larry, who didn't want to give up the c.e.o. post when they were encouraged very strongly by the venture capitalists ten years ago to take on a c.e.o., his values of always really the google values. the things he cherishs are great ambition and speed in developing products and speed of the products scale, being able to run things like the internet there and i think you could look at those ten years for eric... where eric ran the company so well as training for larry and the training wheels are off and he's ready to run the company. >> rose: but you also suggest and cite is fact that larry early on understood how big google could be even to the surprise of the venture capitalists. >> absolutely. john dorr told me there was a moment when they came before him when he said "how big do you
think the company can be?" and larry said "i think a billion dollars." and john said "that's bigger than i thought, i don't think a market capital of a billion dollars would be much." he said "no, not a market cap, a billion dollars in revenue." and, of course, now they're making 2k34r0r billion in revenue. >> rose: and a market cap of? >> over $200 million. they're one of the most valuable software companies now. >> rose: so what's the threat to them? >> right now google niece a facebook panic. they're very worried about the social wave that might engulf them. in fact, they have a initiative called emerald c which is google's answer to facebook and answer to the whole people-oriented movement and i asked them what's the meaning of that and they said if you google an image search emerald c, the first thing that comes up is a painting by a 19th century artist named alfred bierstadt and it's a giant wave about to engulf a tiny sailboat.
they say that's the way we see the people oriented internet. we could either ride it to bigger glory or it could engulf us. so there's effort to address this one component of the internet which they haven't mastered yesterday. >> rose: what is their fix on what social networking means to the future and what's going to replace the internet? >> i don't think they think it's going to replace the internet but they see it as a valuable corps pus of information. so google is all about to get all the world's information and organize it and make it accessible and it frustrates them hugely that people are sharing their interests and who their friends are with facebook and this is very valuable information that google can use to give you better search results and improve its products so i think they want to build that energy those connections and things people share into all their products. >> rose: and the relationship today between google and a? >> it's in shatters, really.
at one point google and apple looked like they would be humphrey bogart and claude raines in casablanca, a beautiful friendship and steve jobs felt it was great because they were totally complementary. they had no products to compete and they could take on microsoft as a duo. but google saw-- and you can see how they saw this-- they saw their future depended on mobile because the searches people did increasingly were on those smart phones, right? and the day is coming very soon where more searches will be on smart phones than on laptops and desktops. so google felt it was important for them to go into that market and they didn't inform steve jobs fully enough for steve's liking and i think he felt betrayed when he saw that the phone that they were developing looked a lot like the iphone. >> rose: so what happened to eric schmidt who was on the board of apple. >> there was a period where eric had to excuse himself from apple board meetings when they discussed the phone.
because it was clear that google was developing a phone system of its own. what steve jobs didn't know, apparently, was how close it was to his phone. i managed to track down the confusion there in talking to the android team because i learned there were two versions of the android they were working on. one was called sooner, which was going to be the first one. sort of a basic phone with search and things like that and the other was called the dream. and that was more like the iphone. now as soon as the iphone came out google realized it would make no sense to come out with a phone that was obsolete even before they released it. >> rose: so they went to the dream? >> they went straight to the dream which for steve jobs was a nightmare. >> rose: so today is there a sense that android will surpass-- because its sales are rising faster than the iphone. >> right. it's not a precise comparison. so android is outdoing the iphone but apple makes much more money on a phone than google makes. google gives its phone away.
it's a trojan horse for google products. so when you get an android you get not only built in search but you get an easy way to use gmail and the other google goodies. >> rose: what does google do do in terms of the tablet? >> they have an android-based tablet operating system they're releasing there. >> rose: the samsung model and others? >> right and they're going to keep releasing these operating systems for the tablet. interestingly, google has another operating system for computers to take on windows and it's based on the cloud. you don't have files on this chrome operating system. basically the browser is your operating system. i asked larry page, larry, you're a search company and you have two operating systems. and he said to me "only two?" >> rose: so other than facebook, what's the challenge for google? >> i think the biggest challenge is thinking like a small company
when it's big. and this is something that has bedeviled the founders, particularly larry, since the company started growing at a rapid rate really in the early 2000s. >> rose: have to maintain the culture they started with? >> and the nimbleness. the internet is getting products out in a big hurry, even if they have to be in beta for years. they want them out there and they want their people to feel creative and non-constrained and not have to answer to middle management. i looked into the hiring process. one of the things they really select for very closely is ambition. larry's a very ambitious person. he feels... >> rose: how do they measure ambition in the process of hiring employees? >> they look at your college g.p.a.. they make sure your s.a.t. shows you're smart and look at your g.p.a. to see if you're dedicated. they look at your work history, they take the best of multiple interviews to see the kinds of things you do. they test you buy these
complicated questions and they kind of... the kind of person ideal for google is a person with a low tolerance for bureaucracy and dilbertism. these are the people who are the first to walk out the door when they're frustrated by political situations with manages. they say "i'm out of here." and some of these people leave and some of them have google feels we have to streamline. that's one high priority for larry now that he's see joe to reorganize the company to make it streamline sod that no one feels that they're constrained by middle management. >> rose: back to facebook for a second. isn't there something thinking social connection would be the central relationship between people online? >> the question is when you want to go to a restaurant, who do you care more about? the restaurant critic's view or your friends view? and i think not with facebook but with google we're going to get the test of that. google has released a product
called social search, now when you search you get a little notice when one of your friends or someone you follow on twitter has marked that they like that site. or maybe they've given a recommendation of a restaurant. right now those results don't affect the ranking of search results. when you search for something you'll get a notice when it shows up whether your friends liked it or not. soon google is going to rerank the search results and name a signal in where they rank then it will test to see if people like those results more. everyone is asking, which is more important, what your friends say or what the experts saytor crowd source population in general he? >> what do you think the answer will be? >> i think for some things it will probably be friends but for other things people will like the result it is best algorithm gives. >> rose: what happened in china? >> well, this was to me the climax of google's attempt to build this moral company and
they put a stake in the ground in their i.p.o. saying we're going to forgo profits and we think it's for the good of humanity. so they had to make this terrible compromise to get into china. they had to withhold relevant search results from people who searched in these service of an oppressive government. this is tough for air is guy bryn because his family had come over when he was a young child from russia to escape oppression they justified that by saying "overall, we're going to do good for china by putting more information there, by telling people we're going to filter search results, maybe they'll push back against their government." google thought it was going to change china. but what happened was the opposite. china kept demanding more of them. at one point china asked them not only to sensor search results within china but sensor search results all over the world for their chinese language search engine to if you were sitting in new york city and typed in tiananmen square you wouldn't see anything about the protest, just smiling bureaucrats and happy tourists
and things like that. google resisted that. there were a number of other compromises, they made a number of mistakes. i found they had to fire their government relations person because she gave ipods to chinese officials as christmas presents and that's against our laws. they had to deny their engineers in china access to the code base, the production code in t united states that would allow them do their jobs well. they were worried the code would walk out the door or be compromised. >> rose: was there a division between larry and air is guy on the one hand and eric on this issue? >> i think originally they were all on board. sergei was along with the rest of them in thinking that this is all going to be good for us. leary told me people don't believe us, we felt we were going to do good in china. but somewhere along the line sergei and other executives became disenchanted and they felt censorship shouldn't go on and after the olympics they
thought maybe things would get better, they got worse. and by the time the end of 2009 when google was attacked by hackers who were almost certainly working for... supported by the chinese government that was the tipping point. s where air is guy and those who agree with him led the debate and got google to stop censoring. >> rose: is it an open question as to whether larry will be a good c.e.o. >> i think it is. in some respects he's done some smart things. particularly in streamlining and he's done some innovations like an idea he got from bloomberg to put all his top executives in a room together for several days a week and they all control their divisions or communicate with them in laptops in the room but if they have something to say that might be of interest to people running other things, the person on android wants to say something to the person in charge of youtube, they can have a conversation on the spur of the moment. where i think larry is a little
slow to take a job would be in communicating google to the world. he doesn't like talking to the press. he didn't take questions in the first earnings call there. and i think it would do larry and google very well if they look on google's perception as a product when it's just as important as their other products because they're under the gun in regulation, in antitrust scrutiny. >> rose: tell me about that because washington... there's been rumors they were going to be scrutinized. >> all right every acquisition they make gets the scrutiny. the last big one they made was for travel information and google had to agree to limitations on how they could use this company they were buying. google had a privacy problem with a product called buzz and they had to agree to oversight about privacy there. so pretty much everything they do from now on is going to get that antitrust scrutiny. i don't feel strongly, though, that they will get nailed for
the search engine itself because it's too easy to go to another search engine. >> so this question of privacy today there are more stories about it and how much google and apple and microsoft know about it. do you think that may develop a led wind and become a powerful force against their power? >> it already has, really. and i saw with my own eyes at how they had to restraint it. i saw in a meeting where they had a product. it didn't have huge privacy hurdles because it was an end product. it was... people can find for themselvess where they went by google latitude tracking and the privacy people said we need more controls. we have to remind people even after they opted in every two weeks that this thing is still on. google had to de... decided not to implement one feature in a cool product they had where you could take a picture of something and it would be like a search query and that was capable of taking a picture of a
person and it would have face recognition and they said "that's too creepy, people will be too upset about that. " so even though we can do it we're not going to do it. >> rose: the book is called "in the plex: how google thinks, works and shapes our lives." thank you. >> thank you. captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org